On 29th November 2012 the learned Judge Siti Khadijah binti S. Hassan Badjenid quietly gave a decision on a civil suit initiated by Persatuan Peniaga & Kebajikan Pasar Minggu, Kg Baru. The Suit was filed in 2008 and we were represented by Ms. Kamala.
We acknowledge that the learned Judge justly applied her legal mind to the matter, but to me, it is a sad decision.
Squatters or occupiers?
There were 181 parties to the Suit. (For convenience sake, it shall hereafter be collectively referred to as ‘we’. This is my Abah’s hometown, and therein, my kampung too).
The 171 individuals are those whose families have lived in Kg Baru from the time the government moved us from Perkins’ Road (Now Chow Kit) to allow for widening of roads in the 1930s. In the learned Judge’s decision, we were successfully identified as ‘occupiers’ and not squatters.
This is a sharp telling-off to the Government especially DBKL who kept alleging that my Grandfather, my Father and the subsequent beneficiaries (i.e. my generation) of the shoplots there are squatters.
We are acknowledged by the Court as legitimate occupiers. We are acknowledged as valuable members of society, contributing national benefits of both tourism and socio-economy in our 110-year-long history of being small-time businessmen and food & beverage entrepreneurs, especially since my Grandfather’s generation were moved there.
In that regard my family honour, our maruah, is vindicated and intact.
The other 10 were not related to the original residents of Kg Baru but are those who were sold occupation of the shoplots/residences etc by said persons and hereto are considered squatters, and not entitled to compensation of any kind.
We have long been aware that redevelopment will be done on Kg Baru for a good 20 years or so and unanimously support it. What has always been a bone of contention is the form of development we all wanted in Kg. Baru.
It’s the manner and method, accompanied by the vague and lack of sureties on the part of the Government (i.e. DBKL, PKNS and the developer) that we would be able to return and continue the family business.
The fact is, the proposed draft development plans they showed us; the fancy buildings, the high tech infrastructure, the million-ringgit luxurious commercial and residential areas incurred much anger and dissatisfaction amongst the Kg. Baru folks.
We were in fact told that we have to pay for this AND for the cost of the land. The same land we have been given as compensation equal in kind and value to the shoplots/hawker stalls we lost when my Grandfather’s generation were moved from Perkins Road to now Pasar Minggu Kg Baru, all those years ago, if we want to continue to live and do business in Kg. Baru.
You can see how DBKL, without taking into account much of the feedback gotten from the residents who consistently asked for affordable residential and commercial areas so that we can move back in has ‘listened’:
How could small-time business owners who for generations got by with running food businesses, pasar malams, hawker stalls, etc afford this?
Loss of Culture
The implication is staggering.
The old wooden Malay houses, the little mosque tucked beside the badminton court, the bustling food heaven Kg Baru is known for, will soon be gone.
The main cultural stage which in my childhood hosted weddings, children’s competitions, majlis bercukur, meetings, sports events, political rallies, saw violence and humanity and resilience of the human spirit before, during and after 13th May 1969 – all that at the center of the Malay community will be gone.
My Grandfather’s coffee shop, where he used to serve his famous nasi padang and teh o’, a little book library nestled in the corner so that the kampung folks who couldn’t afford to buy books could borrow to read and better themselves, will soon be gone.
The surrounding tight-knit Muslim community will be dispersed and spread elsewhere – where we know no one and on unfamiliar grounds.
I will never when one day, Allah willing, settle down, be able to point out to my own children where a large and proud part of his/her identity belongs to, as my own Abah once did.
My Abah (Aziz bin Hamzah) would dutifully bring his three young daughters back to Kg Baru for the food, for the family and friends, where collectively all the Pak Ciks and Mak Ciks would teach us by oral tradition the history of his hometown.
Back when the streets were so safe that children could roam without supervision as the neighbours knew us by sight and kept us out of harm’s way. I spent part of my childhood playing and growing up on the ghetto Kg. Baru streets and am proud of it.
One significant part of my identity will be gone, and what does the Court say of how much this is worth?
The learned said thus in regards to compensation:
Berdasarkan rumusan kebarangkalian mahkamah mendapati plaintif-plaintif 1 ke 171 telah berjaya membuktikan bahawa mereka telah menghuni dan berniaga secara sah di Lot 3338 dan dengan itu berhak diberi bayaran bagi maksud perpindahan, ‘rehousing’ dan ‘rehabilitation’ sepertimana diperuntukkan di bawah regulasi 16(3) Regulasi 1969. Jumlahnya adalah yang terbaik yang pernah ditawarkan kepada plaintif-plaintif oleh defendan.
The discretion is left solely on DBKL to determine how much we are worth. DBKL’s ‘best offer’ was PPR rental. It’s a small tiny flat built in an area far away from Kg Baru, and the replacement shoplots are tiny and far away from common business traffic – not strategic for business at all. Mind you, we are not offered ownership of said PPR or shoplot, but rental.
Some have taken the PPR rental option provided by the Government, and agreed to receive the temporary shop cubicle built and provided by DBKL and the Developer.
However, from what I have observed from the old family friends who took PPR rental and alternative shop cubicle option; their business died, their livelihood was lost, they couldn’t put food on their family’s table anymore. It was simply not feasible for business.
They had no choice but to leave Kg Baru and seek trade elsewhere.
Janji Ditepati, my foot lah!!!
Notes : My thanks to Malaysiakini, HarakahDaily, Bernama, Free Malaysia Today, Raja Nong Cik Fan Club blog, and various sources from which I Googled images of Kg. Baru, KL.